Francois Hollande’s monthly €10,000 haircut

Conférence des Nations unies sur les changements climatiques – COP21 (Paris, Le Bourget)

Ah, the French Revolution, that magnificent upheaval that  cast off the aristocratic oppressors and sparked a new age of tolerance. Liberté, Egalité and of course Fraternité informed the whole endeavour, culminating in that magnificent Socialist icon Francois Hollande, a man who once claimed to hate the rich.

It now emerges that Francois has a barber on his staff, an artist paid €10,000 a month, to make sure the Presidential coiffure never goes limp.

Ten grand a month! Can you believe that? A barber is paid ten thousand euros a month to hang around looking enigmatic and unshaven, sulkily smoking a Gaulois, and occasionally snipping the stray wisps of a man who might shortly have no hair at all.

Did the original Sun King spend as much on his court coiffeur to shave his head once a week so that his wig would fit without too much sweat? One doubts it and yet the new Socialist Sun King deems such expenditure appropriate to keep his receding, greying thatch dyed and trimmed.

I have news for Francois le Grand, le Roi Nouveau Soleil: Your hair is shite. It’s complete shite. Why are you paying that hairdresser four times the average French wage to sit around all month for one haircut?

You have awful hair, Francois. It’s terrible.

Surely Ségolène told you how awful your thatch is, or perhaps that was what caused your dreadful rift?

Get a grip, Frank. Shave your head. For once in your life be cool.

And while you’re at it, sack that silly coiffeur.




Curse of Enoch Powell destroys David Cameron

enoch powellEnoch Powell’s ghost has killed David Cameron’s career and how symmetrical the tragedy is.

Powell, who once wished damnation on Chamberlain for appeasing Hitler, has reached from beyond the grave to ruin an even worse failure as Prime Minister. Powell, the voice of British xenophobia for so many years, perhaps didn’t realise what a seed he had planted or what a thorny briar it would grow into. Despite his personal hubris, the man who expected from his teens to become Viceroy of India might well have failed to understand the motivations of hoi polloi. Perhaps in his magnificent mind, the classics professor thought that his utterances were all Greek to the lower orders, but if so, how wrong Enoch Powell was.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.[/dropshadowbox]

Thus spoke Powell. But even he could hardly have suspected that a Prime Minister would behave as crassly as Cameron. Powell the intellectual could hardly have supposed that any PM would be so stupid as to gamble on the stupidity of the Great British Unwashed, especially an unwashed that had for years festered in the propaganda of those who sought to profit from hatred, from xenophobia and from ignorance.

Enoch Powell might well appreciate the symmetry of David Cameron’s capitulation, a political life ending in failure but also cut off in midstream, though hardly at a happy juncture.

If he took a moment to ponder, Powell might well conclude that he himself had sown the seeds of the anti-immigrant hatred that led to a narrow Brexit margin, though he might not be so happy to reflect that he was the only major figure in modern history who evoked rivers of blood, apart from Saddam Hussein.

It was in the seed-bed prepared by Powell that the shoots of anti-immigrant ignorance took root and eventually undermined David Cameron’s foundations, but at the same time, his demise was predictable once he dabbled with things he didn’t understand. The toffs of the Bullingdon Club — David Cameron and Boris Johnson — might as well be looking into a bush as trying to understand the lower orders in their class-ridden society and their joint gamble failed, though with different outcomes.

Powell understood the proletariat well enough, as a man who rose through the ranks from Private to Brigadier in five short years, thanks to his prodigious intellect. He knew that the British Tommy was deliberately bred to be a savage fighting unit by his aristocratic betters. He grasped the fact that the Empire desired to cull these fighting units in a hail of lead war upon war for fear their vote might make a difference in the homeland.

Powell was untroubled by such ugly notions, and it’s reasonable to assume that neither Cameron nor Johnson lost much sleep about it either, just as Thatcher didn’t when sending an expeditionary force to the South Atlantic in defence of New Zealand’s mineral rights over a rocky outpost governed by a man with a feathered helmet and a ceremonial sword.

But the difference is that Cameron and Johnson took a chance and gambled on the Great British Unwashed not bothering to turn out for the vote. What’s doubly ironic is that Cameron and Johnson hoped for the same thing — a Brexit defeat — and now Cameron is gone while Johnson simply ran away. But here comes Theresa May to replace Cameron and suddenly Johnson is appointed Foreign Secretary.

I don’t know if there’s an old Chinese curse to cover these situations, but if not, there should be.

May you get what you wished for.

Enoch would surely be chuckling in ancient Greek.




What a terrible ringtone Bad To The Bone is.

Ba-ba-ba-baaaad  …

I lie in the dark with staring eyes, fumbling for the phone. What?? Is someone dead?

Baaaad to the bone …

Oh wait. It’s only crazy Uncle Jack calling from Torremolinos where he’s been living since that embarrassing incident on the Mile End Road back in the Sixties. He’s not really my uncle, but he married my Auntie and anyway who cares if he’s a bit of a villain? Uncle Jack, he’s all right.

Nigel Farage BrexitHey, Jack, I reply. Is everything ok?

I see us Brits is leavin the UN.

Jack, it’s dark. The birds haven’t even started to threaten each other. Why are you calling me at five in the morning?

We have enough of the UN. We want out.

You’re not leaving the UN, Jack. You were never leaving the UN. Anyway, you haven’t voted in Britain since that unfortunate incident in 1963.

You got it all wrong my son, Jack replied. We are leaving this Union thing, whatever it is. We are going to be independent.

Jack, I try to explain. Britain had a referendum about leaving the EU but that’s sorted out now. They’re staying. I checked before going to bed.

UN. EU. Whatever you call it, we’re out. Us Brits is leavin everything with a U in it. I heard it on Fox news.

I shoot upright in the bed like I’ve been pepper-sprayed.

Have you been at the sherry?

I saw that friendly guy on TV. You know, the cheerful fella with the pint of beer? Garage or something. He was saying …

Nigel Farage?

That’s him. Michel Fromage. French chap. He was saying Britain is safe from foreigners after the vote.

Jack, I need a coffee. Don’t hang up. Do not hang up!

I hop out of the bedroom pulling on one shoe, finger the laptop power button, poke at the TV on-switch and nudge the broken radio into life as the kettle screams Brexit and every neuron in my brain says No! They can’t be that stupid!

But they are.

They really are that stupid, buying in to every half-truth and distortion fed to them by the Leave side.

They really, really have been that stupid.

Hello? A tiny, tinny voice echoes from the phone. Hello?

Sorry, Uncle Jack, I munch through my healthy wholemeal toast, longing for that delicious cottage loaf of my childhood. Sorry, Jack. I forgot about you.

Course you did, he reproaches, just like everyone else does at my age. But Mr Fromage didn’t forget me. Michael Fromage, the leader of U-Quip who fought tirelessly to keep Brussels tyranny out of Britain.

You mean tyranny like the Working Hours Act? Tyranny like getting rid of roaming charges on phone calls? Tyranny like abolishing the airline cartels, making your flights to Torremolinos so much cheaper?

Never mind that. What about the other stuff?

What other stuff?

Straight bananas. Stopping us setting our own VAT rate. Forcing us to take in refugees.

You didn’t take in refugees, your bananas are still bendy and you still set your own VAT rate.

Never mind that, says Jack. It might all happen. I believe that Russian fella, Maurice Johnson.

Boris Johnson?

Yeah. Proper English toff, him. Who am I to disagree with a proper toff like that? He’s been to Oxford and everything, and besides, the Daily Mail and the Sun said that we was overrun with immigrants, over here taking our dole and our jobs.

How can they take your dole and your jobs at the same time, Jack? Isn’t it one thing or the other?

We don’t want no immigrants in our country.

How about foreign footballers? I ask. How about doctors? How about nurses?

That’s different.

Why is it different?

They’re not really immigrants. Not really.

What are they then?

They’re temporary residents providing a service.

Tell me this, Jack. What will we do when the customs posts go back up on the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland? What will we do when the Pound collapses and our exports to Britain become too expensive and our industries start to buckle?

Don’t be silly, Jack says. We’re a great country. The sun never sets on our empire.

Jack, how long is is since you set foot in Britain? Wasn’t it the time you visited Ronnie Biggs back in 1964?

Well, yeah. But we’re still a great empire.

Jack, I say, where does this vote leave you?

How do you mean?

Well, aren’t you an immigrant? Won’t you have to go home too?

Don’t be ridiculous, Jack chuckles. I’m not an immigrant. I’m a British ex-pat. Only foreigners are immigrants.




government Politics war

Orlando murders reveal darkness at the heart of the American project

At least fifty people have lost their lives at the hands of a homophobic murderer in Orlando, Florida in the Pulse gay nightclub. The number of dead is likely to increase since many of those taken to hospital are described as critical, and many more will spend the rest of their lives with crippling injuries.

One might think that such a tragedy would evoke huge human empathy but apparently not.

The Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick,  tweeted as follows:

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]

Do not be deceived:

God cannot be mocked.

A man reaps what he sows.

Galatians 6:7



Mr Patrick later deleted his tweet, explaining that it was all an unfortunate misunderstanding, but the Westboro Baptist Church was under no such illusions.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]God sent the shooter to the Orlando fag club![/dropshadowbox]


Still, with the WBC, at least you know what you’re getting, though not so much with Donald Trump, who immediately began tweeting, firstly with a cursory nod to the relatives of the victims and then with a full-blown chest-thumping congratulation of himself for warning about keeping Muslims out of the United States.

Now, it’s true that the killer, Omar Mateen, was a Muslim, but in much the same way Donald Trump is a Christian.

It’s also a fact that the killer was a US citizen, born and bred in the USA. But what’s even more undeniable is that, even though Omar Mateen was a private citizen and not a gang member or part of any political grouping, he was still able to purchase perfectly legally the sort of firepower that allowed him to massacre at least fifty people and maim as many more.

It’s also a fact that the murders took place in a state where anti-gay attitudes are deeply entrenched and where the State legislature has reluctantly rolled back its anti-gay laws only as a result of vigorous arm-twisting by the US Supreme Court. It’s a fact, furthermore, that these murders happened on the edge of the Bible Belt where fundamentalist Christians regard homosexuals as an abomination and where many people would hardly shed a tear at the killing of a gay man or woman. In addition, it’s a fact that these murders happened in a state where the gun laws are extremely lax.

Yet, despite all these things, cynics like Trump are getting away with the most outrageous conclusions.

According to Trump and his fellow travellers, the massacre didn’t happen because Orlando is in a state where gays are still a marginal community.

The massacre didn’t happen because rednecks would as soon string up a gay person as a black.

The massacre wasn’t facilitated by the fact that every random lunatic can buy an assault rifle.

The massacre didn’t happen due to extreme religious prejudice, or at least, not the sort of extreme religious prejudice we approve of.

No. The massacre occurred because of the other extreme religious prejudice. The sort we don’t approve of.

It makes no difference that both sorts of extreme religious prejudice come from the same book, the same band of wandering, murderous ignorant sheep herders and yet, as it turns out, the killer wasn’t even very religious, according to his ex-wife. In fact, he was just your average non-religious controlling wife-beating scumbag.

Or to put it another way, he was just another prejudiced anti-gay chest-thumping redneck.

Of course, that wouldn’t suit the agenda of Trump and his associates, so instead Omar Mateen has to be painted as a follower of ISIS who, of course, were more than happy to claim his actions as their own.

Normally in America (and how sad it is that anyone would be able to use the word normally but such is the state of things in that country) when a madman kills a large number of people, the authorities investigate and conclude in the end that the mass murder was committed by an unhinged person or in exceptional circumstances like Oklahoma, a domestic terrorist.

I have yet to hear of an American mass murder where a killer was described as a Catholic extremist or a Protestant extremist or a Shinto extremist and yet, somehow, when the killer has the remotest connection to a Muslim country, he can’t simply be a homicidal maniac like any normal Christian. The explanation has to lie in his religion, or in the religion of his parents or in the religion of someone he was descended from a thousand years ago, because that’s how Americans have been led to view the world: through a lens that allows only for good guys and bad guys, with the current bad guys being Muslims. One quarter of the world’s population, including the late Muhammad Ali.

Japanese-American people will understand this sort of thinking very well indeed since they were all imprisoned for the duration of World War 2 purely on the basis of their non-European features, in horrible concentration camps like Manzanar. Meanwhile, people with European faces suffered no such imprisonment, even though they bore the names of the arch-enemies. No German-Americans were imprisoned. No Italian-Americans were put in concentration camps. No Hungarian-Americans. No Croatian-Americans.

Indeed, a man with an Americanized German name, Eisenhower, was made Supreme Allied Commander and later became President. It’s hard to imagine, even today, a President Hashimoto or Katsumata.

It’s also hard to avoid the conclusion that despite the great talk about separation of church and state, America is, and has always been in its essence a European Christian project, conceived in an act of genocide and maintained in a huge act of continuing global warfare without end.

You’d have to conclude that in situations like this, Trump and ISIS are best buddies. A coincidence of interests, so to speak, between two equally unscrupulous political enterprises.

A very dangerous confederation of criminals and possibly one that could lead to another world war.



Brexit and the language of the barrow-boy

One of Britain’s most charming characters is the East-End barrow-boy. After all, who doesn’t love Arthur Daley? A little dodgy maybe, but in the end, he’s all right. Who could possibly dislike Del Boy Trotter, that vulnerable rogue always on the look-out for the main chance and ever-willing to take a prat-fall for the laughs? What a fackin diamond was Del Boy.

The Brits love their villains.

They loved Ronnie Biggs even though he bashed a poor bloke’s head in with an iron bar.

They loved Reggie Kray and his brother Ronnie cos you see the Krays and the Richardsons was always ‘avin’ a bit of an argy-bargy, but still they was always ready to take their old Mum down the Frog and Nightgown on the Roman Road for a good old knees-up even after Jack the ‘At got what was coming to him.


Gawd don’t the Brits love their fackin villains? And don’t they love their fackin spivs? Who hasn’t been down Brick Lane on a Sunday morning as the Arthur Daleys and the Del Boy Trotters get rid of their goods?

I’m not just givin’ you one set of china.

I’m not just givin’ you a block of knives.

I’m not just throwin’ in this ‘ere portrait of the old Queen Mother.

I’m not gonna give ya a mop, an ‘oover and an engine for a modified Ford Capri.


For twenty nicker, you can ‘ave the deeds to Buckingham Palace! Come on then! Letsby Avenue!

Now, as it happens, Brick Lane is but a stone’s throw from another den of spivs: the City of London. A rather grandiose term, I always thought for a place teeming with crooks and chancers. Did I mention that I once worked there in an august financial institution? It’s true, and I did the same lunchtime drinking as said crooks and chancers, but I had other ambitions in life that didn’t involve being a reptile, so I left.

The City of London is a place where the worst reptiles in Britain — perhaps in all of Europe — gather to bask in the sun we call Money, and they are truly vile, not to mention truly cold-blooded as befitting a reptile.

A young lad of 18, a descendant of immigrants, entered this reptile pit and did quite well for a few years, selling not pots and pans, not floor sweepers, not magic kitchen scrubbers but commodities. Metals, to be precise, much like the East London scrap dealers but with a more acceptable accent. He was good at it, being a natural barrow boy and so he prospered for twenty or more years until he saw a chance to make even more money.

Nigel Farage BrexitThat was Nigel Farage.

Nigel understood full well that the British public loves a barrow boy. After all, Nigel had grown up in the era of Kelvin MacKenzie, the thuggish editor of the Sun, and he knew that the utter stupidity of the nostalgic classes should never be underestimated.

What do I mean by nostalgic classes?


All countries that once operated a great empire have them. It takes centuries to create them and even more centuries to decommission them. These are the people who continue to believe in the empire’s greatness long after the empire is dead because without a belief in the greatness of empire they have no belief in anything — not even in themselves.

These are the people Nigel Farage has targeted successfully.

These are the people with a belief in their own greatness despite any supporting evidence. These are the people who believe Britain can be great again, echoing Trump’s mantra at the other side of the ocean, even though there is no evidence to support their view.

And thus it has been possible to persuade working-class Brits that they’ll be better off without EU protections for workers, better off in more dangerous working environments, better off with longer working hours, better off with no protection for their minimum wage.

Thus it has been possible to persuade Brits that they can kick out immigrants without thinking that all the Brits living in EU countries will have to go home and become a burden on the British economy.

Of course this has been possible. After all, didn’t the same Fleet Street red-tops persuade the same working-class Brits that Thatcher’s police should baton-charge their fellow workers off the streets?

Why? Because in modern Britain, the politics of the barrow-boy spiv wins the day.

In today’s Britain, people like Farage are seen as leaders instead of hucksters.

Tonight, Farage and Dave Cameron debate the issue on national television with Farage no doubt waving a pint and grinning like an ape. We’ll see what the people truly believe, but I suspect it will all be decided by Farage’s choice of beer.


Trump and Pegida visit. Making Ireland’s Mid-West fascist friendly.

donald trumpTwo major fascists are visiting our region this month: Donald Trump and Lutz Bachmann, founder of Pegida.

Mr Trump is the son of a billionaire while Mr Bachmann has rather more modest origins. While Mr Trump is simply a rich frat-boy misogynist and a bully, Mr Bachmann struggles with a past that includes convictions for burglary, drug dealing and assault.

However, Mister Trump and Mr Bachmann, despite appearances to the contrary, share a good deal in common. Both are committed anti-foreigners. Both demonise Muslims, even though Muslims are one quarter of the world’s population. Both are prepared to pander to the basest and most ignorant people in society. Both seek power by mobilising the utter stupidity of a small but vocal power base, composed of aggressive thugs and disaffected ultra-nationalists.

In a way, you could say they practise conviction politics and in the case of Mr Bachmann, you’d be literally correct since, in addition to his assorted convictions for being a thief, a coke-dealer and  and a violent thug, he was recently convicted for inciting racial hatred. Mr Trump on the other hand has yet to see a day behind bars, though hope springs eternal.

Of course, the public statements of Mr Trump and Mr Bachmann bear disturbing comparison with those of a certain Mr Hitler — in Mr Bachmann’s case, quite literally, given where he grew up: Dresden. The city bombed to oblivion by the Allies in a despicable war crime, and subsequently trapped behind the Iron Curtain. A place where fascism had the space and the time to fester.

Mr Trump’s connections with Mr Hitler are far more tenuous, since his German grandfather didn’t become an immigrant to the USA until about 1900. How fortunate for Mr Trump that his grandfather wasn’t Mexican and that nobody had yet thought of building a wall, but leaving that aside, what a wonderful coincidence that Mr Trump’s public statements carry such a strong echo of Mr Hitler’s, provided you substitute the word Muslim for Jew.

Anyway, that’s not really what I was thinking. When I find myself talking about fascists and Nazis there’s no shutting me up. Sorry.

What I was really thinking is this.

Those fine people in Identity Ireland are bringing Mr Bachmann to Limerick later this month, and I sincerely hope there’s no trouble at that event, even though many people will be outraged by his presence.

Likewise, Mr Trump will be visiting his sado-golfism resort at Doonbeg around the same time, so maybe we could set up a fascistourism industry in these parts. The last time Mr Trump came to our shores, our finance minister Michael Noonan joined a little tableau of harp-players, Irish dancers and lovely girls to welcome him off his plane, as all government ministers everywhere do when a foreign businessman arrives. You can imagine the Swedish finance minister doing exactly the same thing, standing at the end of a red carpet, beaming at an American rich guy. Because that’s what government ministers do, isn’t it? That’s their job.

Let nobody tell you that a government minister is supposed to be overseeing the vital strategic interests of the country. At least not when a mega-mortgaged proto-Nazi is arriving and needs a photo opportunity. We’re good like that.

So anyway, I was thinking, why don’t we make the Mid-West Nazi-friendly?

If Kerry could do it with Star Wars, why don’t we do it with the Fourth Reich?

Why don’t we turn this little corner of Ireland into a place where Nazis like Trump and Bachmann feel right at home?

It wouldn’t cost much to turn the country into a place that Trump and Bachmann would feel comfortable with. No Mexicans, no Muslims, no Mexican Muslims, no Jews, no blacks, no black Jewish Mexican Muslims. Nothing but wall-to-wall rednecks. We could set up a corner of County Clare for these folks and we could relax our gun laws.

Let them all come here with their guns and let them do to each other what rednecks do best.

Except it won’t involve their sisters.



Climate Politics Stupidity

Danny Healy (Rae) and climate change denial

As I sat on top of the chicken house yesterday in the pouring rain with my neighbour Adolf O’Goonassa, we watched an old man who could hardly walk or talk staggering through the fields with a creel of fish.

‘Tis true what Danny Healy (Rae) says, he shouted against the downpour. Only the Man above is in charge of the weather.

Adolf reached into the póca of his weskit, withdrawing a pouch of tobacco and a small bottle of whiskey.

Do you know phwhat Bock? he muttered in the softest, most melodious Irish anyone ever heard.

Phwat? I replied.

‘Tis a bad sign that the ducks are in the nettles.

And so it was. A bad sign indeed, because even though a Kerry village pines for its missing idiot, our national parliament gains one more ignoramus. Kilgarvan’s loss is Ireland’s loss.

Danny Healy Rae Michael Healy Rae

On the other hand, you might say that Danny Healy’s (Rae) contribution to the climate change debate was a master-class in the power of buffoonery (if by contribution you mean bluster and if by debate you mean denial). You could almost hear them tuning up those banjos back in Kerry as Danny rounded on Eamon Ryan and told him that one year the sun didn’t shine in Ireland at all at all, and another year we were drowned out of it. And in 1740, three million of us died from famine at a time when there were only 2.5 million in the country and there were no combustible engines then either as Danny reminded us.

Twice, Danny pointed out that there were no combustible engines back in those days long ago.

Squeal like a pig? No. Eamon kept a straight face throughout Danny’s  lecture on a subject he plainly knew nothing about and in a way it was hard not to shed a nostalgic tear. There was a time when every bar in Ireland had some bombast ready to hold forth on any subject in return for a pint or a cigarette.

Of course Danny, no more than the rest of his political crew, isn’t that easily bought. It will take a lot more than the offer of a small whiskey to sway him, and that’s why, after displaying to the world the boundless unplumbed depths of his ignorance, he brought his rant around to local matters.

Danny made it plain that he sees no difference between weather and climate and besides, there’s nothing we can do about it down here on Planet Earth. God above, you see, controls the weather and when it rains, the best thing the government could do would be give maybe €200,000 to drain the river at Glenflesk, naturally enough using diggers supplied by Danny’s plant-hire firm which was specially set up by God to protect Kerry from his wrath.

It probably plays well enough around Kenmare and Kilgarvan, and what else would Danny care about? This, after all, is the same man who suggested that pub owners should be able to give their customers certificates allowing them to drive with excess alcohol in their blood, and just like the flooding and the diggers, this suggestion had nothing whatever to do with the fact that he owns a pub himself.

And still they elected him.

Let’s hope, when he arrives to save the poor drowned people of Glenflesk, his engines aren’t too combustible.

Environment Politics

Irish Water charges to be suspended in political fudge

irish water chargesThe Irish Water charges will be suspended if Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil manage to cobble together some sort of political fudge in a desperate attempt to retain power.

Are we surprised?

Leave to one side the fact that water charges were conceived by Fianna Fáil and implemented by their evil twin, Fine Gael. Ignore the crass desire for power that allowed them both to arrive at this short-term deal. Disregard the fact that the hospitals are bursting with emergency cases and people are waiting years to get life-saving scans while the politicians agonise over a couple of hundred euros a year for water.

Put all that to one side and reflect instead on what these clowns in Fianna Gael / Fine Fáil have wrought by their ham-fisted introduction of a water utility, perhaps the most inept ever, thus book-ending our economic collapse as the most severe in the history of this most wealthy corner of the planet.

Rarely have we seen an issue so well-suited to cynics, opportunists and downright political disrupters, bless them. Where would we be without disrupters?

Let us disregard the question of charges for the moment and look at the infrastructure as it stands.

In this country, we have 31 local authorities, each of which, until the creation of Irish Water, was responsible for providing fresh water and sewerage services to its local community.

Is that a good model? Would it make sense to have thirty-one electricity monopolies? Thirty-one gas monopolies for a tiny population like Ireland’s? Would it not make more sense to create one single water and sewerage organisation in order to develop a plan for the entire country? And if not, please explain why not.

Many campaigned against the creation of Irish Water solely on the principle that it should not exist regardless of water charges, but many others objected to paying anyone anywhere any time and the arguments ranged from the strictly rational to the barking mad.

The rational people argued that they already pay for water in their taxes while the barking mad drifted towards the delusional, suggesting that treated, piped water should be free because it falls out of the sky.

Like food should be free.

I’m not too fond of the idea that I should pay for anything. I don’t like handing over money any more than the next man, and I’ll be up front about this: I haven’t paid an Irish Water bill yet, but that’s not because I don’t think I should pay to have water treated and delivered to my home, and then removed when I’m finished with it.

The reason I haven’t paid an Irish Water bill yet is because of the arrogant, intimidating, threatening attitude they took to us. I didn’t like the swagger of their ads or the condescension of their leading PR woman.

I didn’t like the attitude of their chief executive, once known as the million-dollar man when he was a middling clerk in Limerick County Council but since elevated to great office, even if he didn’t exactly grace that office with greatness.

I didn’t like them, I didn’t like their attitude and I didn’t pay them, but at the same time I knew that treating and delivering water costs money.

The other thing I didn’t like was the swaggering, condescending attitude of the anti-water lobby. I didn’t like being labelled as a corporate shill simply for questioning their opposition to water charges and I still don’t like it.

I don’t like the opposition to water metering since it is perfectly obvious that we should always measure what we waste if we are to protect this planet, but it seems that even if Irish Water is abolished there will be people opposed to metering for reasons they won’t be able to explain.

And besides, even if we abolish Irish Water, what will we replace it with? Thirty-one local authorities? No. We’ll replace it with Irish Water under another name, because that’s what makes sense.

What are the reasons to oppose Irish Water?

This: It could be taken over by private interests. A rational point that could easily be dealt with by legislation.

This: It charges us money even though we already pay for the service. A rational point that could be dealt with by debating the accounts.

This: Water is free. No it isn’t, any more than food is free.

This: Water is a human right. Not it’s not, unless that right is given to you by law.

There were many reasons to oppose the badly misconceived Irish Water Scheme but sadly, the opposition seems to have been hijacked by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Where would they be without Denis O’Brien to provide the scary bits?




Politics Religion

Pope takes Syrian Muslim refugees to Rome

The Pope has taken three refugee Syrian Muslim families back to Rome from Greece, and many commentators have accused him of tokenism for doing so.

Guess what?  They’re right. It is tokenism.

Guess what? The Pope is right, because his tokenism beats my tokenism any old day of the week. I agree with the Pope. Some people might think we have no basis for agreement on anything, but of course they’d be wrong, since we share the same values of human decency and the Pope seems to be just as appalled as anyone else at the treatment of the people trying to escape the slaughter in Syria.

There is much that I would disagree with the Pope about, which is hardly surprising  since he is, after all, the head of the Roman Catholic church while I on the other hand am an atheist. I don’t accept that his god exists and I don’t accept that he has any moral authority in society at large simply for being the Pope. What’s more, I found some of his recent utterances repugnant to my sense of fairness, but in this instance, the Pope has done a thing that might resonate across the world and might perhaps achieve some good.

It’s easy to see how his symbolic rescue of a dozen Muslims could be troubling, but the Pope has at least confronted the bigots in a way they can’t avoid and by doing so, he has laid down a challenge to those people who call themselves Christian.

Perhaps one of the most shocking things about the refugee crisis has been the vitriol directed towards the refugees. If this is Christianity, then I’m glad to be an atheist but I suspect it is not. I suspect the likes of Pegida and our own pathetic home-grown Identity Ireland are no more Christians than the deranged killers of ISIS/Daesh are true Muslims. I suspect that the Pope knows it.

I have yet to hear an atheist demand that refugees be sent back to the place where ISIS/Daesh will murder them but I have heard many Christians doing so and here we have Pope Francis confronting such intolerance in a hugely symbolic act.

If the Pope, of all people, is embracing Muslims as his brothers and sisters, how can bigots continue their ignorant tirades against a full quarter of the world’s people? There is much I disagree with the Pope about, but I can find no grounds to quibble with him on this. He has given the decent people of the world something to hold out in front of self-described Christians.

Something to point at.

Look at this.

Your most prominent holy man is comfortable with Muslims.

What’s your problem?



Crime Politics

Israeli company helps FBI to crack iPhone

Apple-iPhone-5SCall me innocent if you want to, but I just assumed that the FBI, the CIA and Mossad are able to see everything my electronic devices are doing. I thought Homeland Security knew how many times I boiled my kettle — which is why I use a gas stove (clever or what?) — and I thought they were able to count the number of shirts I iron every week. That would probably explain the extremely bored and overweight CIA shirtwatcher waiting to detect ironing activity chez moi while his career goes nowhere. No promotions in Bock ironing duty.

Yes, I must be naive. I thought every gadget made in the world had a back door built into it as a matter of course so that the FBI wouldn’t have to take Apple to court just because they needed to unlock an iPhone. And failing that, why didn’t the FBI just bring the phone to one of the many Pakistani shops that specialise in unlocking phones? They’re very good at what they do, you know, but maybe the Americans were a bit too invested in profiling and didn’t think it was a good plan to be involving people from the Indian sub-continent in such sensitive matters. After all, it was only this week that a disabled man had his payment bounced by a US bank because his dog was called Dash. The ever-vigilant teller detected that this sounded a lot like Daesh, the contemptuous acronym for ISIS (if it had been written in Arabic) and decided he was a potential terrorist threat. Because of course, a member of Islamic State is going to approach an American bank using a name that ISIS absolutely hates.

You can never be too careful, or too stupid.

Ok. It’s Murica and they aren’t going to use some Pakistani guy in a corner shop to unlock their iPhone, just in case he turns out to be, well, Pakistani and they have to put his name before Obama for the morning kill list.

Are we sending in a drone, Mr President? Huh? Are we?

What did he do?

Well, he fixed the phone while being Pakistani.

Isn’t that like being sort of Afghan?

Yes, Mr President.

Let me get back to you after my early-morning volleyball tango session.

But seriously, I thought they could control everything. I thought nothing in this world was made without a back door and it turns out I was right, but the back door is only for some people. The FBI might not have this access, and the CIA might not have this access. Homeland Security still don’t know how much tea I make and they still believe I iron 18.2 shirts a week. The White House might not have this access, and nor might the Pentagon, but somebody does.

Somebody is able to achieve a feat that the FBI can’t manage and yet nobody in the US security fraternity seems concerned about this fact.

Somebody out there is able to unlock an iPhone without losing its data and this person or body is referred to only as a Third Party.

To explain: the FBI has withdrawn its legal action against Apple since they have been able, with the assistance of what they describe as a third party, to unlock the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, the San Bernardino shooter.

According to their status report submitted to the US District Court

The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Faroook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple Inc. …

And who might this Third party be? We’re all wondering about that, but informed sources are suggesting that it might be a company located in a country that proudly describes itself as the only democracy in the Middle East.

Now. Won’t it  make you feel a lot more secure tonight as you snuggle into your bed, knowing that the self-proclaimed only democracy in the Middle East has more technological savvy than the self-proclaimed greatest democracy in the world?

Apple might well be re-examining precisely where its manufacturing contracts are going, who is handling the manufacturing and who exactly has a say in the construction of its products but meanwhile, Bibi’s been reading your texts, Barack.

Stick to that BlackBerry.